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Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman

I am not sure when it happened but somewhere along the line I became interested in fairy tales.  Myths, legends, folklore, you name it, I find it interesting.  Literary adaptions, recreations, new translations, etc.  I have even gone so far as to collect dozens of children’s and adult fairy tale collections of various sorts from library sales and used book stores (and even occasionally newly published).

One of the wise folks at Viking Publishing figured this out and sent me Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman.

#1 New York Times bestseller Philip Pullman retells the world’s best-loved fairy tales on their 200th anniversary

Two centuries ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now Philip Pullman, one of the most accomplished authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Pullman retells his fifty favorites, from much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “The Three Snake Leaves,” “Godfather Death” and “The Girl with No Hands.” At  the end of each tale he offers a brief personal commentary, opening a window on the sources of the tales, the various forms they’ve taken over the centuries and their everlasting appeal.

Suffused with romance and villainy, danger and wit, the Grimms’ fairy tales have inspired Pullman’s unique creative vision—and his beguiling retellings will draw you back into a world that has long cast a spell on the Western imagination.

I was excited and I started reading it right away.

There was just one small problem.  I found it hard to read 50 fairy tales straight through like it was a novel.  I found myself reading a couple at night before bed, slowly making my way through the collection. So it took me some time to finish.  And of course, then I had to come up with something interesting to say about the volume … So here we find ourselves discussing the book months after it came out. How gauche, right? Sarcasm aside, the publisher probably would have preferred a quicker response but better late than never.

Nevertheless, if you are as fascinated by fairy tales as I am this is a must read. Pullman provides a wonderful collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with a straightforward and clean style. Plus, he adds some interesting and whimsical comments at the end of each story.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman

I am not sure when it happened but somewhere along the line I became interested in fairy tales.  Myths, legends, folklore, you name it, I find it interesting.  Literary adaptions, recreations, new translations, etc.  I have even gone so far as to collect dozens of children’s and adult fairy tale collections of various sorts from library sales and used book stores (and even occasionally newly published).

One of the wise folks at Viking Publishing figured this out and sent me Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman.

#1 New York Times bestseller Philip Pullman retells the world’s best-loved fairy tales on their 200th anniversary

Two centuries ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now Philip Pullman, one of the most accomplished authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Pullman retells his fifty favorites, from much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “The Three Snake Leaves,” “Godfather Death” and “The Girl with No Hands.” At  the end of each tale he offers a brief personal commentary, opening a window on the sources of the tales, the various forms they’ve taken over the centuries and their everlasting appeal.

Suffused with romance and villainy, danger and wit, the Grimms’ fairy tales have inspired Pullman’s unique creative vision—and his beguiling retellings will draw you back into a world that has long cast a spell on the Western imagination.

I was excited and I started reading it right away.

There was just one small problem.  I found it hard to read 50 fairy tales straight through like it was a novel.  I found myself reading a couple at night before bed, slowly making my way through the collection. So it took me some time to finish.  And of course, then I had to come up with something interesting to say about the volume … So here we find ourselves discussing the book months after it came out. How gauche, right? Sarcasm aside, the publisher probably would have preferred a quicker response but better late than never.

Nevertheless, if you are as fascinated by fairy tales as I am this is a must read. Pullman provides a wonderful collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with a straightforward and clean style. Plus, he adds some interesting and whimsical comments at the end of each story.

The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese by Howard Norman

Howard Norman is an author I have enjoyed for some time. I knew his background in folklore but hadn’t really explored any of that part of his career.  But what I stumbled upon The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese: And Other Tales of the Far North while on vacation this summer I knew that had to change.  A beautifully illustrated book of folklore by one of my favorite authors? Yes, please.

Publisher blurb:

Based on decades of research and extended collaboration with Inuit storytellers, award-winning author Howard Norman’s masterful retellings of ten Inuit tales invite readers on a unique story–journey from Siberia and Alaska to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Dramatic illustrations inspired by stonecut art of the Inuit people capture the beauty and mystery of these stories as they carry us–sometimes laughing, sometimes crying–from village to village over taiga, tundra, snow plains, and the iceberg-filled sea.

This book is exactly what I thought it would be when I stumbled upon it: wonderful, evocative stories from the Far North with gorgeous illustrations that make it that more fun to read.

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull

You know the drill by now, right? I like exploring fairy tales and folklore and unique takes on them.  So the wise publicist who sent me Summer and Bird was clearly paying attention (or I got lucky).

Plot summation:

When their parents disappear in the middle of the night, young sisters Summer and Bird set off on a quest to find them. A cryptic picture message from their mother leads them to a familiar gate in the woods, but comfortable sights quickly give way to a new world entirely—Down—one inhabited by talking birds and the evil Puppeteer queen. Summer and Bird are quickly separated, and their divided hearts lead them each in a very different direction in the quest to find their parents, vanquish the Puppeteer, lead the birds back to their Green Home, and discover the identity of the true bird queen

Despite its seemingly being a good fit for me, I struggled with this book for a few reasons. In spite of some weaknesses, that likely vary by reader taste importance, I admire the creativity and writing of this debut work.

The Gnome Lexicon by Marcia Lewandowski

I wanted to bring to your attention a book that came my way, The Gnome Lexicon.  Readers of this blog will know I am a sucker for quirky books with well done illustrations that touch on folk lore or fairy tales so it is no surprise that I found this volume intriguing.

From the publisher:

The Gnome Lexicon is a comprehensive study on gnome lore. Altogether there are seventy plus gnomes that represent fifty-nine cultures included in the book. They are divided up into twelve chapters according to where they reside, for example, Hearth and Home, Forest and Jungle, and Sea, Stream, and Swamp. Each gnome has at least one page-some have up to four-so the reader can be introduced to each one in detail; what they look like, what corner of the world they live in, and how they interact with people. Some are well-known-such as the brownie and the leprechaun-but also included are more obscure gnomes such as the little-known Egbere (Nigeria) and the Bwbach (Wales). A few have never before been in print; others have received just a mention in passing. The gnomes are a fascinating mix of merry, incurable tricksters; dour, hardworking companions; and shy, elusive loners. There are also three small sections that cover other gnome essentials: ways to see a gnome, their relationship with cats, and why gnomes would rather you not know their names.

The title could have been “everything you wanted to know about Gnomes but were afraid to ask.” It is really incredible to dive into the detail and the breadth of cultures and regions covered.

In addition to the vast amount of information about gnome folklore around the globe the book also has wonderful illustrations on every page and the entire book is wonderfully designed to match the subject matter. A joy to read, to flip through and read those sections that catch your fancy or just enjoy the illustrations.

This would make a great gift for anyone with a love of folklore or gnomes.

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